I'm sure about the "causing a lot of pain" part but I don't know about what followed.

Is there a word that means "causing a lot of pain or passing out" or "causing a lot of pain or death"?

His condition went from healthy to indolent and then indolent to _______?

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    The only meaning of indolent I've ever encountered is lazy, slothful. I can sorta-kinda see the progression of meaning from "indolent teenager" to "indolent tumor (meaning slow-growing)" to "indolent tumor (meaning causing little pain because it's slow-growing)", but I wouldn't suggest using indolent with this meaning unless you're writing in a medical journal. – Marthaª May 10 '16 at 20:36
  • @Marthaª: actually, the progression seems to have been in the opposite direction. – herisson May 10 '16 at 20:40
  • Well, the "in" here is the negative prefix, so it would be logical for the opposite to be "dolent." I don't think that's used much, though I did find a paper that describes a "dolent tumor": bloodjournal.org/content/bloodjournal/82/10/… – herisson May 10 '16 at 20:43
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    By the way, it doesn't seem to me that "indolent" is typically used in the way you use it in your example sentence, to refer to a person's condition. Most commonly, this adjective seems to be applied to objects or parts of the body, such as "indolent tumors." In that context, the opposite would be something like "painful" in normal language. I don't know if there's a technical term. – herisson May 10 '16 at 20:49

terminal (if the prognosis is death)

  1. (of a disease) predicted to lead to death, especially slowly; incurable. "terminal cancer"Google

His condition went from healthy to indolent and then indolent to terminal.

excruciating (if the problem is pain)

intensely painful. –Google

His condition went from healthy to indolent and then indolent to excruciating.

The guy who passed out, fainted.

The autonomic nervous system regulates your heart rate and blood pressure. When you experience sudden pain, your heart rate and blood pressure can rapidly decrease, which affects the amount of blood flowing to your brain. This stress on the body, primarily the sudden loss of blood, can result in fainting. –Google

Also, you cannot die from pain.

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    Since Google results can change, it might be better to link to Google's sources. The source of the first definition seems to be Oxford Dictionaries (unclear which specific dictionary) and the source of the description of fainting is a "Go Ask Alice" post. – herisson May 10 '16 at 21:31
  • Google, simply, is not a reference. Link to what sites you found on Google, please. – NVZ May 10 '16 at 21:34
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    @Mazura: I understand, and it makes sense to attribute it to Google, but as I said earlier, the problem is that Google is not a very stable reference. They seem to have switched dictionaries in 2010; they might do so again within a relatively short time period. I found a meta post that recommends not using Google as a source: Is Google Dictionary a valid definition reference (in particular in answers)? – herisson May 10 '16 at 21:42
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    @sumelic Any dictionary is "not a stable reference" in that their link structure can change and the information presented at a particular page can change. That's why our policy is to avoid link-only answers, but this isn't a link-only answer. It includes the definition here so that future readers don't need to go any further than this page in order to get their answer. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 May 11 '16 at 18:38
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    @Mr.ShinyandNew安宇: Hmm... you're right. Links are never "stable" anyway. I guess rather than the link, the part that I was talking about as being "stable" was the actual name of the dictionary, which will not change even if the dictionary updates its definitions. – herisson May 12 '16 at 14:26

Consider on the verge of death (or "at the death'door").

Definition: very near the end of one's life. (Often an exaggeration.)


  • I was so ill that I was at death's door for three days.
  • The family dog was at death's door for three days, and then it finally died.
 Edit following @NVZ comment:

For a single word, ailing may perhaps fit.

  • I would've answered similarly but OP has used only the SWR tag so far. – NVZ May 10 '16 at 20:35

As hinted at by @sumelic, in a comment above, the use of indolent as you have defined it (and as it seems to be defined in a number of dictionaries) is unusual outside of the medical sense. Consider:

indolent adjective Medspeak Referring to a condition that may linger longer, but often slowly progresses to a more advanced stage—e.g., indolent lymphoma, indolent malignancy, indolent myeloma.

Vox populi Slow growing.

Segen's Medical Dictionary. © 2012 Farlex, Inc. All rights reserved.


in·do·lent (in'dō-lent), Inactive; sluggish; painless or nearly so, said of a morbid process. [L. in- neg. + doleo, pr. p. dolens (-ent-), to feel pain] Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

and further

Lymphomas are commonly also categorized as indolent or aggressive. Indolent lymphomas are slowly progressive and responsive to therapy but are not curable with standard approaches. Aggressive lymphomas are rapidly progressive but responsive to therapy and often curable.

From a search for indolent in the Merck manual.

These are examples of the use of indolent as a fairly narrowly defined adjectival descriptor of a growth, tumour or other malignancy.

Your question might be best answered by aggressive being the opposite of indolent in a medical sense. Whether this necessarily means painful is moot.

Physicians often use exquisite pain to describe intense pain. This may answer part of the pain question.

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